Perseid Meteor Shower 2024: When, Where & How to See It

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The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most spectacular shooting star displays, is set to peak around the night of August 12 and the early hours of August 13, 2024.

Despite the moon being 50% illuminated, it will set around midnight, providing dark skies perfect for meteor watching until dawn.

Quick Facts About the Perseids

  • Active Period: July 14 to August 24
  • Peak Viewing: Night of August 12 and pre-dawn August 13
  • Origin: Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle
  • Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR): Up to 100 meteors per hour under ideal conditions

Viewing Tips

For the best viewing experience, find a dark location, bring a comfortable chair, and be patient.

No telescopes or binoculars are needed; just let your eyes adjust to the darkness for about 30 minutes.

The Perseids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere and down to mid-southern latitudes. Look up and to the north for the best chance to see meteors.

Why Do We See the Perseids?

The Perseid meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

This comet last passed close to Earth in 1992 and will next return in 2126.

As Earth travels through the densest part of this debris in mid-August, we experience the peak of the meteor shower.

These tiny fragments, often no larger than grains of sand, burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, creating bright streaks of light.

Best Time to Watch

The best time to watch the Perseids is during the pre-dawn hours when the sky is darkest.

Even though the moon will be half-illuminated, it will set by midnight on peak nights, allowing for excellent viewing conditions.

Interesting Facts

  • Speed: Perseid meteors travel at a speed of 133,200 mph (214,365 kph).
  • Heat: They reach temperatures of over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 degrees Celsius) as they burn up.
  • Visibility: Most fragments are visible when about 60 miles (97 kilometers) from the ground.

Astrophotography Tips

If you’re interested in photographing the Perseids, a good camera like the Nikon D850 DSLR is recommended.

No special equipment is needed for viewing, but for photography, consider reading guides on capturing meteors and selecting the best cameras and lenses for astrophotography.

Safety of Comet Swift-Tuttle

There have been concerns about Comet Swift-Tuttle potentially colliding with Earth.

However, refined calculations show no danger of collision.

The comet will pass comfortably within 15 million miles of Earth on its next approach in 2126.

Conclusion

Mark your calendars for the night of August 12, 2024, and get ready for one of the year’s most stunning astronomical events.

Whether you’re an avid skywatcher or a curious newcomer, the Perseid meteor shower promises a spectacular show.


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